Thursday, 12 April 2012

Beautiful Days - Anna Godbersen (#2)

*There may be some spoilers in this review for those who have not read the first in this series, Bright Young Things. To see the review for that, click here*

I read Bright Young Things, the first in the series with the same name, early last year and pretty much loved it. Anna Godbersen has been a favourite author of mine for a while now since I fell in love with the covers of her previous series The Luxe set in 1900's New York before I set up the blog. 
That series was so good and I was a little disappointed by the first book in Bright Young Things. However, I was still hooked and couldn't wait to get this book when it came out in September. I did get it - but like a lot of books I didn't read it until now.

Synopsis: It's been a month since Letty and Cordelia arrived in New York and they have already fit in. Both living at Dogwood, Cordelia's late father's huge estate on Long Island, they spend their days relaxing with their friend Astrid and the nights out in the sparkle and high-class society of 1920's Manhattan. 
However, Letty wants more than being just a socialite. She wants to finally achieve her dream of being on Broadway - whatever the cost. 
Cordelia, meanwhile, is still getting over the events of the last month where she was deceived by the gorgeous Thom Hale resulting in her father being killed. She wants to honour her father - while achieving revenge.
Astrid is finally engaged to Cordelia's half-brother, Charlie - but caught in a shimmering world of speakeasies, jewels and endless parties. But Charlie is a gangster playing dangerous game and soon Astrid, Letty and Cordelia are caught up in the dangerous web of the gangster's world. 

Review: So after having a slight disappointment after Bright Young Things and starting this over a year after reading the previous book, I was a little unsure whether I would enjoy it as much as I wanted to - I mean, I could only briefly remember what happened in BYT and with Anna Godbersen still having to live up to The Luxe series in my mind, the outcome was a bit shady.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. This, I felt, was MUCH better than it's predecessor and I got more into the narrative and finding out more about the time and the character's themselves.

Sometimes when other historical fiction writers write these period novels, you only have a favour for the time and you read along with an understanding of what life at this time was like. However, whenever I read Anna Godbersen's books, I am literally taken to the era and it is like the reader is this invisible friend of Letty, Cordelia and Astrid's walking along side them experiencing what they are. I know a lot of about the 1920's America because I was examined on that decade of Prohibition, speak-easies and entertainment for my History GCSE last year. Equally, I picked this book up now as I'm studying The Great Gatsby in English Literature at the moment for my exam next month - so I have some knowledge of the time - who doesn't, with movies like Bugsy Malone? Now only did I understand and enjoy reading of the time period I know about, but I got to experience with the characters - therefore, I know why everyone goes to Gatsby's parties in a sense!

Considering this, I have a feeling some people would feel the characters are annoying or too frivolous, but knowing the time, this is exactly right and suits the decade the book is set in. If you want some more frivolous, I direct you to Daisy in The Great Gatsby...

In the last book, I didn't like Letty at all, but fell in love with the characters of Cordelia and Astrid. Letty, this time, was much better and felt sorry for her for the majority of the book, especially in the middle. There is a moment when she is with Grady (oh yes, he's back...) where I was deeply cringing for her - I must admit, some of the events in the book I wanted to jump in and shout at them 'Just tell them!' - but you know, I couldn't. Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading of all the characters.
Actually, to be honest, I felt sorry for all the girls at points.

Charlie is back also and in charge of the family bootlegging business now his father is dead. I have read a lot of reviews where people really disliked him and to be honest, he doesn't get any better. There are moments where I disliked him but latterly, he is much more likeable because of events - although still forceful and demanding.
There are a small cast of new characters as well as recurring minor ones - all of which were delightful additions to read about alongside the three main girls.

The best thing about this book is the writing which Godbersen I think altered slightly to suit the era after The Luxe. It is very visual and lyrical in parts that helps capture the society and attitude of the time, transporting you to that period of time. This is a book I had no problems with.

Overall, this is an amazing next chapter from the last book and the strongest so far. It is rich in suspense, romance, glamour, tension and moments where I just wanted to jump in and join the parties. Letty, Cordelia and Astrid have all formed into characters which I love to read about and although, the majority of the time, you are merely following their lives - it makes it an interesting and sparkling read. I would read BYT before starting this one, but if you have read BYT, although can't remember some of the plot, don't worry because this book gives a brief summary of what happened in places near the beginning. I had no problem remembering what had happened previously.
This is a delightful book which I thoroughly enjoyed and am SO looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Verdict: If you weren't a fan of BYT, still try this one, it's MUCH better.

I give it a 5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 368
Publisher: HarperCollins
Challenges: Historical Fiction

The next book in the series, THE LUCKY ONES, comes out later this year.

Click here for my review on Bright Young Things - the first book


  1. I've read mixed reviews on this one, but I'm glad to see you liked it. I liked BYT, but still need to get my hands on this one. Great review and I'm a new follower :D

    Confessions of a Readaholic

    1. I think if you liked BYT, then, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this one - the first one I felt was a lot about introducing the characters when this has a bit more action and 'secrets'.
      Thank You! :)


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